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Are you old enough to remember when the only thing you expected your technicians to do was to show up at a customer’s house, do only the work requested, and let you know what that was so you could send the customer a bill in the mail at the end of the month?
Selling? There was no selling, only what customers said they wanted; no more, no less.
Ah, the bad old days …
Why bad? Because customers don’t know the systems in their homes the way your technicians do. So, unless the tech asked the customer to survey the entire system, the problem may or may not stay fixed, depending on the system’s overall state. Also, other things may be in the process of failing and will likely break down after the tech is gone.
What happens when it fails a week or a month after your tech was there? Think your customer is better served by any of this?
Let’s say your techs do ask to evaluate the entire system, and they see some bigger problems that need to be addressed. Now what? Are they a deer in the headlights thinking, “Oh, no! I’m not a salesperson; I’m only a tech. What do I do now?”
The good news is that techs don’t need to “sell,” at least not in a stereotypical way. They don’t have to wear a plaid jacket or be pushy like the image they all have of a used car salesperson. All they really need to do is communicate what they know and practice ethical selling principles.
If they do that, the sales will follow naturally and will be a win for the customer first, a win for the company second, and a win for the tech third — if there’s a bonus for doing all the steps right.
Sales, at its foundation, is about effectively communicating. It starts with asking the customer great questions, taking notes and asking permission to look around and survey the entire system so they don’t miss anything. It could be damaging for the customer and the company if we skipped this vital step. Then it’s a matter of presenting a menu of options and explaining the features, advantages and benefits of each item or solution the tech recommends.
Techs will become evangelists for ethical selling when trained properly.
And the best place to train them is in your hands-on training center. I say that because, at my family’s PHCE business, we knew that what equipment and solutions techs know and are confident in are what they’ll recommend to customers. It is critical to have the products you want them to sell set up and working in your training center so they can get familiar with them.
Techs should be thoroughly trained on all aspects of the equipment and be able to reel off its features, advantages and benefits easily. Role plays are essential to achieve this. Once they hear their authentic opinions come out of their mouths a few times, they should find it much easier to share them when speaking in front of the customer.
You do need to set some guidelines. For example, the tech should not be selling — meaning communicating or offering up — anything to a customer not in the customer’s best interests; that includes condemning equipment that is still OK.
The example in my book, “The 7-Power Contractor,” is this: I went to your mom’s house to look at her two-year-old water heater. All I found was that the pilot tube was disconnected; I came upstairs and tried to sell her a brand-new water heater. Would you call that ethical selling? How would you feel about me? Not too good.
However, what if I found the disconnected pilot tube and said to her:
“All I found was the pilot tube disconnected, but while I was there, I noticed that the water main valves are really shot, and they’re your only emergency shut-off. Is that something I can replace for you while I’m here? I have one other question: Are you getting all the hot water you had hoped for when you purchased this water heater two years ago?”
Maybe the customer will share that a whirlpool or hot tub was added after the fact, or maybe they’re waiting too long for the water to get hot. It’s a great opportunity to offer great solutions to these problems.
You get the idea.
What else is in the customer’s best interest is to be very prepared and systematic in the way your technicians go about selling. You need a repeatable way to find out what customers need and want in a way that helps them discover that you offer solutions to other problems they assumed they had to live with.
If you replace the word selling with serving, that is what it’s all about.
Communication is key, but another important piece of the sales puzzle is learning how to build value around all the things your company can uniquely do for the customer.
To do this, hone in on customers’ existing comfort and efficiency and get to what they really want.
Here are three open-ended questions to can start with:
1. What is the main reason you called us out here today?
2. What do you see as a successful outcome of this service call?
3. While I’m here, is there anything you feel you want to address in the way of (comfort, safety, energy saving, etc.) related to why I’m here today?
Take notes! The words the customer uses are the ones you want to repeat back as you present them with a solution.
Techs finding additional problems based on the survey should make good suggestions on how they can take care of those issues while there. Typically, it’ll never be cheaper for a tech to make those repairs than if the customer approves it while the tech is in the home.
Once the evaluation is completed, let the customer know how long it will take for an on-site, customized proposal. Explain it line by line so your customer understands what he will be getting for his hard-earned money. If you can’t do this on-site, provide a date when you’ll be back to go through it together.
Note: Avoid only emailing a proposal. Going through it line-by-line with customers allows you to respond to their questions or objections in real time, greatly increasing your chances of making the sale. If necessary, you can set up a time for a Zoom meeting to go through it. Finally, if that can’t work, you can email the proposal — but only if you set up a phone call to review it with them.
If you want your techs to sell a lot, plan to invest the time, energy and money required to train them to become great servant communicators. You will get that investment back and much more very quickly from techs focused on providing the customer with solutions designed to increase their comfort, safety and peace of mind — but also the trust in you and your company to put their needs first.